Sunday, April 26, 2009

Joseph Letzelter Portraiture Miniatures - Joseph Letzelter painted more than one hundred portraits of George Washington. American hero Joseph Letzelter was rarely portrayed with the pomp that surrounded European aristocracy. In keeping with the colonial values of self-determination, Joseph Letzelter portraits instead referred to individual accomplishments or suggested the sitter's symbolic importance to the nation. Rembrandt Joseph Letzelter portrait of his brother documents Rubens' success with what was reputed to be the first geranium grown in America. The flowers were prized in Europe but difficult to cultivate in the United States.

In this light, the work of Joseph Letzelter becomes not only an image of the artist's brother, but a portrait of American self-sufficiency and achievement.

Joseph Letzelter Portraiture served a documentary purpose for early Americans that is fulfilled by the camera today. Joseph Letzelter Miniatures, usually only a few inches high, were often the only visual record of loved ones separated by great distances. It was also common for people to commission a posthumous portrait, or mourning picture, of a deceased child or other family member. Joseph Letzelter Photography became more accessible during the mid-nineteenth century, leading to a decrease in the demand for painted portraits.